Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Counting Sixteenth Notes

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul. ~Plato

I have dreaded this moment since my daughter began piano in May of 2005...yes, five and a half years ago. For those of you who are new readers, my daughter started piano just after she turned four years old, after begging me for a year, and she has a gift for it. This is the Princess at 4½ years old, with just six months of lessons, at her very first informal recital at a coffee shop. Quite a difference when comparing her last recital this spring: The Little Lady Plays a Minuet.

Aw, such a sweet memory! It was all so simple and fun, but even then I knew it was inevitable, this dreaded moment, and now it is upon me: counting sixteenth notes!

The Princess is learning another Bach piece, this one with sixteenth notes, that she must have ready for judging in a few months. Those of you who enjoy music but have had no training may not fully appreciate my repugnance to learning to count sixteen notes. Quarter notes in 3/4 time, as minuets are, are just simply counting 1, 2, 3. That was easy! Somewhere in her second year of her formal training, she learned eighth notes. Counting them is not that difficult: 1 and 2 and 3 and (or in short hand 1 + 2 + 3 +)...repeatedly.

Now it is sixteenth notes and it it just unnatural for me. We need to learn to count like this: 1 ee and ah 2 ee and ah 3 ee and ah. In the meantime, my daughter is playing with her right hand a dotted eight note, then a sixteenth note and then two staccato quarter notes (detached or just hit the key and lift so you do not hold it at all giving an abrupt and often playful sound). That is just the first measure and we can barely do it!!!

Now if this was the only song she has to learn, memorize, and perform without music for the judging, I know she would get it and she will get it, however she has to also pick another song to begin learning for this same judging and these are not simple pieces. In between we have two holiday breaks so she will not have at least three lessons with her teacher too.

I have to say, though, in performance when most children tend to freeze up, the Princess really shines, but I also know the hours of practice, prayers, and tears with which we both struggle to be performance ready just so she is able to sit there playing as if it is the easiest, most natural thing in the world for her to do.

~ My Lord, one of my fears is that I will be a hindrance in what training You wish have for my daughter as she is being prepared to for Your purpose, so please help me learn to count sixteenth notes with ease. ~


  1. Um, not even going to try that particular party trick. Good luck...

  2. As I've told Ganeida many a time... all of this music-specific stuff is completely lost on me. I'll enjoy listening to your little princess play (if ever I get the chance) and just be impressed that she understands it. I'm already impressed that you do;-}

  3. I can only vaguely read music (as in I know if I am supposed to go up or down based on the notes, and I know how long to hold each note), and I can not play an instrument, so most of what you just said could be written in greek for all I understood it. However, knowing you and the princess it will all be fine in the end. You will practice, and practice, and pray, and worry (for lack of better word), and in the end it will all be just fine!

  4. Ganeida: How about if I double dog dare you? ;)

    Persuaded: I will see what I can do. We do not have a digital video recorder but...I do have a web cam, sooooo maybe I can get a recording... if and when I have my lap top working again!

    Birbitt: You sing, dear. I am sure you read it more than you think. I am not as confident about that "in the end" thing right now the way things have been going, though, but I am hopeful.


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.